Most of the functionality is fs can be approximated with functions in base R or in a command line shell. The table at the end of this vignette can be used as a translation aid between these three methods.

fs functions smooth over some of the idiosyncrasies of file handling with base R functions:

  • Vectorization. All fs functions are vectorized, accepting multiple paths as input. Base functions are inconsistently vectorized.

  • Predictable return values that always convey a path. All fs functions return a character vector of paths, a named integer or a logical vector, where the names give the paths. Base return values are more varied: they are often logical or contain error codes which require downstream processing.

  • Explicit failure. If fs operations fail, they throw an error. Base functions tend to generate a warning and a system dependent error code. This makes it easy to miss a failure.

  • UTF-8 all the things. fs functions always convert input paths to UTF-8 and return results as UTF-8. This gives you path encoding consistency across OSes. Base functions rely on the native system encoding.

  • Naming convention. fs functions use a consistent naming convention. Because base R’s functions were gradually added over time there are a number of different conventions used (e.g. path.expand() vs normalizePath(); Sys.chmod() vs file.access()).

Directory functions

fs base shell
dir_ls("path") list.files("path") ls path
dir_info("path") do.call(rbind, lapply(list.files("path"), file.info)) ls -al path
dir_copy("path", "new-path") dir.create("new-path"); file.copy("path", "new-path", recursive=TRUE) cp path new-path
dir_create("path") dir.create("path") mkdir path
dir_delete("path") unlink("path", recursive = TRUE) rm -rf path
dir_exists("path") dir.exists("path") if [ -d "path" ]; then ... ; fi
dir_move() (see file_move) file.rename("path", "new-path") mv path new-path
dir_map("path", fun) No direct equivalent for file in $(ls path); do ...; done
dir_tree("path") No direct equivalent tree path

File functions

fs base shell
file_chmod("path", "mode") Sys.chmod("path", "mode") chmod mode path
file_chown("path", "user_id", "group_id") No direct equivalent chown options path
file_copy("path", "new-path") file.copy("path", "new-path") cp path new-path
file_create("new-path") file.create("new-path") touch new-path
file_delete("path") unlink("path") rm path
file_exists("path") file.exists("path") if [ -f "path" ]; then ... ; fi
file_info("path") file.info("path") ls -al path
file_move("path", "new-path") file.rename("path", "new-path") mv path new-path
file_show("path") browseURL("path") open path
file_touch() No direct equivalent touch path
file_temp() tempfile() mktemp
file_test() No direct equivalent if [ -d "path" ]; then ...; fi